Group Messaging

GroupMe Makes Its First Acquisition, Social Address Book Sensobi

After raising $10.6 million in January, GroupMe went on a little hiring spree, but apparently that didn’t satisfy them, because yesterday they announced their first acquisition, TechStars Boston grad Sensobi.

It’s an interesting play on several levels. One, it significantly beefs up GroupMe’s presence on Blackberry, where Sensobi was offering a $9.99 app that looked at users activity across phone calls, texts and email in order to rank their contacts. It then allowed users to set alerts reminding them to stay in touch with certain people on a regular basis.

Sensobi co-founder Ajay Kulkarni told the Wall Street Journal that their technology will be integrated into the GroupMe experience. This might lead to adaptive groups, for example a Work Top Five or Weekend Top Ten, that changed based on a users contact rankings.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Sensobi has not raised any public funding and both co-founders will take positions at GroupMe. “When we met Sensobi co-founders Ajay Kulkarni and Andy Cheung several months ago, we realized that we all shared the same vision: to help you stay in touch with your real life social network,” wrote GroupMe co-founder Jared Hecht.

Fred Wilson has driven home a similar point many times on his blog, and Union Square Ventures recently invested in Kik, a group messaging service. “The people in our phone contacts are our “strong ties” and we should want them in most any social graph we curate,” Wilson wrote.

What makes this acquisition interesting is that Blackberry blocked Kik back in November, probably because its functionality competes directly with BBM, the native IM service offered by RIM.

GroupMe now has a strong Blackberry team, led by Sensobi’s Andrew Cheung and may try to avoid avoid a similar confrontation by relying on the SMS functionality of its app instead of push notifications.

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